Ancient Sacred Mayan Journey: History

The Sacred Mayan Journey is a ritual from the era between 1250 to 1519 A.D. where Ixchel, a main Maya goddess and associated with fertility and the moon, received offerings from the navigators.

A legacy from the past

The pilgrimage recreated at the Sacred Mayan Journey took place once a year. It started during the market days or Kii’wik, when people trade goods, including those elements included in the offerings to the Ixchel goddess.

These market days were also the pointing mark when the navigators completed their preparation to sail across the sea to Cozumel, pay tribute to the deity, and listen to the words of the Ixchel Oracle.

Ixchel, Maya goddess

The Maya deity Ixchel was associated with fertility, health, vegetation, and water. It was also known as Ixchebelyax, Ix Hunic, and Ix Huinieta, plus having several representations such as the moon phases and cycles.

The religious importance of the Caribbean Sea in the Sacred Mayan Journey

The ancient Maya considered the Caribbean Sea a prominent place since it was a source for food and a way to travel, plus pointing the entrance to Xibalbá or Maya underworld (just as the cenotes). The Sacred Mayan Journey is a representation of the transition beyond, within their cosmogeny.


Xcaret, merchant port

Xcaret was known as Polé among the original settlers of the area. The name comes from the Maya word p’ol that can be translated as merchant deal or commodity. This place was also a sheltered harbor and departure point for the pilgrimages to visit the Ixchel Oracle.

Polé (now Xcaret) is mentioned in the Chilam Balam of Chumayel book as the departure point for the itzáes or tantunes, which whom were priests and merchants that sailed across the Caribbean to trade their goods. Eric Thompson, a famous archaeologist and ethnohistorian that named the Maya as “the Phoenicians of the New World” due to their extensive trade routes.

Cozumel for the Maya

The Maya named this island as Kuzamil and every year took place pilgrimages to make offerings to the Ixchel goddess, which was associated with the fertility, moon, and weaving, among other attributes.

In the nowadays Cozumel, used to live itzáes, tantunes or mactunes (known as the ones of the prophecy’s door). The Ixchel representation was made out of clay and had a secret backdoor where the Chilam or priest entered to communicate the designs by the goddess Oracle. It is a common belief that the place where pilgrimages arrived is in the San Gervasio archaeological site at Cozumel.

Xamanhá (Playa del Carmen) and the Maya people

Xamanhá also was a merchant port and departure point for Maya pilgrimages during the pre-Columbian era. When the Maya culture declined, Playa del Carmen (Xamanhá) became a village at the beginning of the 20th Century, inhabited by fishermen and farmers.